Friday, November 9, 2018

Stereo Installed & Harbor Freight Down

I installed an aftermarket stereo in my car yesterday. Had never done that before but it turned out to be fairly straightforward. I had to get a dashboard kit so that it would fit and I made sure to get one with included wire harnesses so I could solder the new stereo's wire harnesses to that then just plug it in rather than cutting into the factory default wires. I used heat shrink butt connectors since I had those and didn't have wire nuts laying around. I didn't have a heat gun so I used a candle to melt the solder and shrink the tubes. After I got the radio installed and the dashboard all put together I realized I forgot to plug in the antenna wire so I had to take it all apart again! The antenna wire was quite short and was a challenge to get plugged in. The whole process wasn't too difficult but it took quite a while, especially after dropping a screw and a socket into the well and trying to find and fish those out using a magnet glued to an old telescoping antenna.

There have been several times when a heat gun would have really come in handy so today I went to Harbor Freight to pick one up and return some nail nippers I bought a couple weeks ago which ended up not being able to nip any of the nails I tried. The guy who helped me was having a challenging time with the return due to their new computer system. Any gift card under $10 can be cashed out and this return was under $10 but it was still making him put the refund on a gift card, and on a new gift card, not the original one which we first tried with. So then I had 3 Harbor Freight gift cards. I went over and grabbed the heat gun and checked out but their system was having problems once again and wouldn't recognize any of the gift cards. It kept giving different error messages but the primary one was that the service was down. In the end they were unable to process any gift cards and suggested I try again later so I left without my heat gun and free pack of AAA batteries. I called later in the afternoon to see if it was working yet but it was not.




Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Working Outside My Comfort Zone

I finished digging the hole I started yesterday along the side of my house where I planted a Japanese Zelkova Serrata tree that we got from the Redding Electric Utility’s Energy-Saving Tree Program. I chose to plant it in the empty area outside my office as it putting it there will supposedly help provide shade and cool the house off in the summer, once it grows large enough. When I started digging I found that the area appears to be more rock than dirt so it took a lot of effort to get it deep and wide enough. Most of the digging I did with a hammer and crowbar because I don't have a pick or dig bar and the shovel would constantly bounce off all the embedded rocks.

The day before yesterday I cleaned out the gutters and blew a bunch of leaves and junk off the roof using the electric air duster I have to clean out PCs. I attached the vacuum pole extensions to it so I could stand upright while using it.

Prior to that I had been working on fixing up my shed, replacing rotted wood , installing a tension wire to straighten out the door that was getting a little warped, and putting on a new roof. I had to replace one of the roof plywood segments as it was completely rotted away due to there being no drip guard installed. Then I removed all the old worn out shingles. Whoever build this shed originally didn't lay down the black felt paper before putting on their shingles, didn't use any drip guards, and used measly little half inch nails. I had felt paper leftover from the gazebo renovation but I had to buy drip guards and longer nails. I also had some shingles leftover but still had to buy another pack. I put on new shingles up to where the shed goes under the overhang of the house. I didn't see any way to nail in new shingles there with the gutter being in the way giving no room to get a hammer in so I just left the old shingles on from there up.

Before working on the shed I had fixed up the section of fence that was behind the shed because one post there was completely rotted at the base and one of the 2x4 rails was rotted. I replaced them both with pressure treated wood. That repair job wasn't too bad except that it was right near some bushes which made it a little difficult to cut the required notch in the 4x4 post and to hammer in all of the fence planks.

With all this labor you'd think I'd be almost done but nope, I still have to sand and repaint the shed and clean and seal the gazebo. Hopefully I can get it done before it rains, which is supposed to start in about a week.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

New Fence

For the past several days my neighbor and I had been building a new fence to replace the one that fell down a few weeks ago and yesterday we finally finished. With all the fires going on the air has been very smokey which meant wearing face masks the whole time. On the bright side, the smoke helped reduce the heat of the summer sun so instead of being over 100 degrees it was only in the 90s. Feels good to finally be done and I think it turned out pretty well.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Office Ceiling Fan

I installed a ceiling fan in my office yesterday. It's something I had been thinking about doing recently because the room gets about 5-10 degrees hotter than the rest of the house, and with this 100+ degree weather we're having the rest of the house doesn't get below 84 degrees. I got the fan for free from someone on NextDoor.com then picked up a bracket from Lowes. The hardest part was crawling through the attic with it being around 102 degrees outside... a floor-less attic with blown-in insulation and spiderwebs everywhere. Three times I had to crawl through the attic because the first time I found that plastic box for the existing light fixture was nailed into a stud so I had to go back and get a hammer, then I realized I forgot to bring drill bits so had to go back and get those. Once the attic work was complete I found that the hole for the existing light fixture was too small for the new metal electrical box so I had to enlarge it with a utility knife. By that point my arms were exhausted so I had a tough time lining up the screw holes of the electrical box with the metal bracket, but once I got it locked in everything else was easy. Hopefully this will help cool things down.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Cutting Cable


Hard to believe a full year has passed since I last called Charter Spectrum to cancel our cable service. Each time the promo period ends and our rates go up I have to call to get put on another promotional rate. I'm sure many of you know that drill. Last year they initially said there were no promotions available for us so I talked it over with the wife and we decided to really cancel. That's when they offered us a better deal than any before: $75/month for internet, local channels, and 10 cable channels. Of course fees kicked that number up a bit, and those fees increased throughout the year so we were eventually paying almost $90/month.

Part of our promotional rate ended this month kicking our bill up to almost $100/month, so I called like normal but this time they didn't offer any new promotions. They simply asked why I wanted to cancel and when I told them it was just too much money they went ahead and accepted my cancellation request. I wasn't expecting that but I'm glad they did because it feels like the right time. We hadn't really been watching anything on cable for the past several weeks except for having shows on in the background like Futurama reruns or whatever. I liked having that but it's so not worth $30+/month. When we do have time to watch TV again we'll go to Amazon Prime streaming and the various networks apps, and if we run out of content there maybe we'll get Netflix for $11/month.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

New Serpentine Belt

I put a new serpentine belt in my car yesterday. I didn't have the correct tool I needed, a 19mm torque socket wrench, but thanks to Nextdoor.com I found a nearby neighbor who let me borrow one. This was my first time changing a serpentine belt and it went a lot easier than I was expecting, taking less than half an hour. Once I was done I started up my car and there was no more squealing!

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Closing of Kmart and Sears

Our local Kmart and Sears stores are both closing, which is kind of sad. They weren't the best stores in the world... or in the town... but I enjoyed getting free and heavily discounted stuff with the Shop Your Way program. I would usually play their sweeps games in the evening while watching TV and end up with about $10-$15 every couple weeks, enough to purchase various household necessities. Sometimes they would offer Surprise Points, which they now call Free Cash, that would get me other stuff for free or very cheap. The program wasn't that great and often had restrictions that weren't listed, but it was still nice to get free toilet paper or dish soap or whatever. Twice I even ended up really winning the sweepstakes! The first time I won some exercise equipment like a weight set, mini trampoline, jump rope, kettle bells, an exercise watch, and probably some other things I can't think of. I kept and used some of the things, gave others away, and sold the rest.

The other sweepstakes I won was called the SHC ONLY: FOR THE HOLIDAYS and the prize for that was a $100 in points... except that they never gave me the points and I assume none of the other 4 winners got theirs either. When checking the status of the sweeps it used to say that it was pending as they were contacting the winners, but then it changed to "We didn't get enough completed entries into this Sweepstakes within the time allotted, therefore a winner will not be chosen". The official rules don't mention anything about a minimum number of entries so I call shenanigans! The Shop Your Way (info@shopyourway.com) people said I needed to contact sweeps@searshc.com, so I did. Many, many times. But I never received a response and info@shopyourway.com had no other contact information and wouldn't do anything to help. So that was frustrating and disappointing... kind of like the closing of these stores.